The Cabin Layout
From a cabin layout, airlines are heading towards a more exciting product, such as Qatar Airlines recent launch of the QSuites, allowing 4 people to connect, dine and do business in flight. Other airlines create bars that could be pushed even to the next level. Etihad markets their inflight Residences (more here). So here are a couple of ideas from my side:
A gastronomic experience in a designated area such as a sushi bar space allowing you to dine at your convenience.
Another culinary experience offering a tapas style wine and food pairing based and centered around the destination the flight is heading to.
A box in a box, i.e. a soundproof area reducing all inflight noise (although inflight noise has slightly reduced it still is very loud – a real opportunity to make a difference here) to better relax the passenger around cocktails. The space could feature a bar service cocktails with a real bartender with background music or even a musician. The bartender could even offer cocktail making classes to passengers. I would call this bar the “seventh heaven” ;-).
Or how about a specialized coffee and tea area serving the finest selections of teas and coffee creations? I still have not understood until today why it is not possible to get an espresso or a cappuccino in a plane, but that’s another story (can someone please enlighten me on this point ?)This could entice the passenger to get up, hang out and connect with other travelers during flight – all the while creating new experiences. Working with brand partners here would make it all the while interesting in regards to creating the win win for costs and for airline passengers.
An evolving and appetizing buffet station that changes throughout the flight depending on the time of day always creates interest and an attraction point (but done well please and it has to go above and beyond your standardized poor “snack bar” selection you find on some premium carrier flights).
Finally and on a healthier note, why not create a health pod, somewhat of a gym space or area to stretch and flex, that can be managed with exercise time slots.
The Seating arrangements
Why not consider the following:
An in seat minibar (with a selection of liquors or non alcoholic beverages customized to your liking – If Cathay Pacific had your details they would know what your preferences are by using somewhat of a cardex (customer profiling) system – no what kind of a WOW would that be?).
What about personalized in-seat amenities available as you get to your seat (and not handed to you after takeoff!). It could further distract the customer from all the pre-flight buzz and let him/her try the products (obviously Cathay Pacific would know where the female and where the male and where the children are seated beforehand to customize the products). These amenities could be placed in the headphone compartment which would be a smarter way of using up that space (an obviously the compartment would be half open for the passenger to see the products). The products, I am sure, would be more used and you would leave it up to the passengers to leave or take them with themselves in the small pouches provided to you (by the way those pouches should carry your initials, which they don’t unfortunately).
Or how about a small wet towel compartment at arms length and any time available.
More importantly, what about an intuitive service center service via their in flight entertainment system. The entertainment system in general is pretty standard, and I have always wondered why no airline has ever created an app that would allow a passenger to choose food and beverage or other items (hot towel, ear plugs, blankets etc.) on the screen instead of having a stewardess come, record your request and go back and forth again for the item requested. In this case I believe that efficiency outranks the personalized order taking process. Pushing it further you could design a peer-to-peer chat system allowing business travelers to connect for like minded topics or to simply get in touch and do business. The technology is out there (Airplane Messenger), so why not incorporate it into the in seat entertainment system ?). And what about an opportunity to connect with UBER chauffeur services to reserve your limousine and allowing you to connect with your driver to arrange a meeting point in a designated area etc. etc. If you are already not proposing a limousine pick up and drop off like other carriers (Turkish Airlines and Emirates offer this great hassle free service with outsourced providers to their business class patrons), why not make it easy and convenient for your customer? Beats me!
What happened to high speed internet (already available on other premium carriers)?
Another thought: an in-flight shoe shine service in partnership with a high end shoe brand such as Berluti.
For further ideas please feel free to share!